Needing Surgery During a Pandemic

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Courtesy Ashley Hancock

Ashley Hancock is an SRJC freshman.

Ashley Hancock, Special to the Oak Leaf

When I heard that there would be a drastic change in lifestyle due to the pandemic, I shuddered in my own skin. I knew that I was suffering from health problems that were making life unbelievably hard to live. I was on track to get surgery on May 28th, but was warned that it would most likely be pushed back because it was not considered an “emergency” operation. That news was soul crushing, because even though it wasn’t a matter of life and death, my condition was severely hindering the quality of life to the point where I couldn’t move or function without extreme pain. But I was able to eat and breathe on my own, so I was “good” to go. As the days turned into weeks with more and more limitations on the shelter-in-place order, my condition continued to worsen.

It took a call to the advice nurse and a connecting call to my surgeon; and with that I had surgery scheduled one week out. My anxiety grew. Surgery seemed like such a long shot, something well beyond the horizon. But now it was knocking at my front door. I began to get more and more scared as each day came and went until it was the day before.

No eating, relinquishing every ounce of food in my body. And I had to say goodbye to my family. I had to say goodbye to my grandparents, and say “until next time.” Hoping there would be a next time. Who knew if my body would have enough strength to get through seven hours of intubation and anesthesia? I didn’t. Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Hugging my brother and sister and my dad at 3 o’clock in the morning, having a pit in my stomach being filled with the realization that there was a possibility that I may never see them again.

Due to the pandemic, I wasn’t allowed to have anyone accompany me into the hospital. I said goodbye to my mom, with the same pit in my stomach. I have never been scared of doors. But those hospital doors hit me like a lightning strike of fear.

And like that I was alone. I was alone on this open road that could be filled with soft sand and beautiful palm trees or hot coals and malicious weather.

I opened the cards from my family and went under with a strong heart and a pocketful of hope. The next thing I remember I was struggling for air as they were extubating me. I could breathe. My eyes were heavy, and unable to keep them open, I fall back asleep.

The next day in the hospital felt like the morning after Christmas dinner. Stomach just full and uncomfortable. Lethargic. Really just exhausting, between relieving phone calls with my family, and figuring out what was causing me a numb foot and blurry vision.

It was time for my mom to pick me up outside of the hospital. I got in the car and I cried. I was filled with happiness and feeling blessed that I was brought through the surgery with the support from family and friends. I’d made it through. Despite the complications the pandemic caused, and the added stress and fear from being alone overnight in a hospital, I came home, alive, well and on the mend. And I couldn’t be more thankful for the support that I have had.